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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 13 February 2014
If you're expecting a book about cheese, think again, for the cheese is coincidental to the truth of this extraordinary book which is really about family, friendship, landscape and memory. It took Michael Paterniti a long time to write this book and it's easy to see why. Seduced and transfixed by Ambrosio, his family, friends and neighbours, but also by the very land they live on has meant it took both time and distance to make sense of it all. But it was worth the wait. This is a fine book by a very fine storyteller, which, if Mr Paterniti ever reads this is the compliment I hope he will appreciate.
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on 26 February 2014
A year in Province and then some more... a lot more.

In the hands of a capable novelist, this story of a man's attempt to honor his father through the production of a local cheese and the friend that may or may not have betrayed him, might have been a better work than “The Telling Room.”

Michael Paterniti, a travel writer and freelance journalist, saw what he thought was a story, a cautionary tale, an echo of man's inhumanity to man, and took off in search of the truth. The problem with his venture seems to be that there was no truth, only ambiguity and a messy affair that didn't fit a journalistic template.

The author is frank about how often the book went cold on him, how many times he had to throw away a stack of papers and start all over again.

“The Telling Room,” is about many things, most of them having to do with Spain. At times it is quite interesting, and the opening salvos are certainly intriguing, but the author clearly got lost and ended up barely pulling out something serviceable that his publisher could accept for the advance paid.

“The Telling Room,” never truly coheres and never really gets anywhere but where we all get; a little older, a little fuzzier, and a little sadder. The writer spread himself thin trying to catch the essence of Castile and the wider expanse of Spain, but he could not weave this dream right.

“The Telling Room” is pocked throughout with footnotes parked in big spaces that often dwarf the writer's main text and take one off-track when they should have been worked into the story and enriched it, rather than served as distracting adjuncts.

Like countless writers before him, Paterniti is bewitched by Iberia and its people. He holds forth on what the ancient land and its wise, yet life-loving people, can teach us, but that did not prevent him from engaging the uniquely American predilection for prattling on endlessly about himself.

Whether it's the “Legend of El Cid,” the bullfight, the process of cheese making or Real Madrid soccer, the discussion always comes back to the author, his family, his thoughts and his personal progress. It shouldn't. It should be about Spain.

“The Telling Room,” represents a case of promise unrealized.
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on 3 August 2015
The Telling Room is almost told in 3 sections. The first section, which lasts most of the first half of the book, is a well-written true story about Ambrosio, who makes a distinctive-tasting cheese in his Castillian village, Guzman. His whole way of life and his soul go into the production of the cheese. He's a charismatic figure who the author sees as a hero - and rightly so. But then, Ambrosio's friend and business partner betrays him and Ambrosio plots revenge.
Reading through this first half, I wanted to book the next flight to Madrid, wend my way up the beaten track to Guzman, try Ambrosio's cheese (there isn't any), drink his wine, knock churra sheep droppings off my shoes, and meet the impressive figure himself - and take out my own revenge on his business partner!
Then the book just stops! Paterniti completely loses his focus, straying from his original direction and going nowhere in particular. What
happens to Ambrosio's plot for revenge ?!!! There are some interesting facts, but some irrelevant facts. I was not interested in Paterniti's family. Not in a book about Spain.
After several irrelevant chapters, the narrative returns to what happened after the betrayal, when the two friends fell-out, now some 20 years ago. Paterniti even attempts a mediation between them. The author makes it clear he doesn't want to finish writing the book - and lose his
hero, and by then, I didn't want to finish reading it - and lose my hero!

Read it yourself, and at the end, you too will feel Ambrosio's arm draped across your shoulder in a final gesture of adios amigo.......

There is one rather annoying feature about the text. At the bottom of many pages are notes in small print - often quite a lot and sometimes going over the page. There's no reason why these couldn't be included int the general body of the text. Although most are relevant, others aren't and detract from the main story. After a while, I started skipping them.
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on 19 January 2015
This book brought back many memories of my first visit to a small part of rural Spain back in the late 60's. The evenings spent listening to the stories of the old men in the tiny bar .....I now live myself here and have often thought of writing my story ...but this book has made me realise that it is impossible to put it all into words. You have to ,I've it to understand the spanish people and their mindset. At times a little heavy going but well worth hanging on in there to learn a little bit more ...
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on 2 April 2016
I first listened to this book as an audio. The paper version is so much better - this is because there are extensive footnotes throughout.
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on 23 September 2014
Strange subject for a book, but absolutely loved it! The characters are so likeable and the twists and turns keep you reading.
even "Googled" the cheese to see if it still existed!!!!
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on 8 August 2015
A multi faceted intriguing read totally putting you into that world and people full of emotions love friendship and life
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on 26 October 2014
Is all so true to the experience of Castille Y Leon, the high meseta and the villages and people. AND very well written.
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on 4 April 2015
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on 21 September 2014
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